💡 2024 Rookie RBs (What You Need To Know)

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We need an unfiltered podcast with Tee Higgins and Brandon Aiyuk…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog Fantasy:

  • A primer on the 2024 RB Class

  • Watercooler: The latest on Brandon Aiyuk

  • RB Super Model: Tier 4 & 5 prospects

  • It’s 4/15. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

The rookie WRs are all the rage right now—and rightfully so—but last I checked they still make us start a couple of RBs each week in fantasy.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 class of rookie RBs…

📉 It’s A Historically Weak Group

I forgot to ask whether you wanted the good news or the bad news first, so let’s rip off the band-aid right away. This is not a very talented crop of rookie RBs. There’s a legitimate chance that this class sets the record for the latest the first RB comes off the board (shout out Bishop Sankey), which is one of my 2024 NFL Draft bold predictions.

🤞 There Are 2 Incredible Landing Spots

That said, there are two dream destinations—Cowboys and Chargers—that are ripe for rookie RB production. Both teams have a staggering amount of vacated touches up for grabs. If either selects a RB in Round 2 or Round 3, there will be justification to get very excited for fantasy purposes.

🙏 Everyone Wants These Fits To Happen

Let me be the first person to share these fun facts:

1) Jim Harbaugh (who is now the coach of the Chargers) coached RB Blake Corum (who is a Top 5 RB prospect) at Michigan. Makes ya think.

2) The physician who performed Jonathon Brooks’ ACL procedure is also the Cowboys head physician. Makes ya think.

These potential marriages have been discussed ad nauseam to the point there’s basically no way it actually happens. But bro, can you imagine if it did?!

💡 Dwain’s Super Model Is Here To Help

If there’s anyone who can help guide us through this tricky RB maze, it’s Dwain McFarland and his SUPER RB model (he gets real pissed if you forget the “super”). This week he’ll be counting down the tiers for all of the rookie RBs, starting with Tier 4 & 5 down below.

🛒 Huge Values In Underdog Drafts

One benefit of an unheralded RB class is the palatable price tags in current drafts. Unlike this buzzy WR class (which features 6 rookies going in the Top 100 picks), there isn’t a single rookie RB going until pick 101 (Trey Benson).

I’ve been loading up on a ton of rookies in my Big Board drafts—mainly Benson, Brooks, Jaylen Wright, and Braelon Allen—because the prices are so cheap and there’s a really good chance a couple of these guys will become 5th and 6th round picks if they land in Los Angeles or Dallas.

Speaking of Underdog…

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Watercooler

🤔 Brandon Aiyuk unfollowed the Niners on Instagram. But he isn’t requesting a trade??

🕺 Caleb Williams is a good sport. You have to admit it’s funny.

🤝 Jim Harbaugh really is one of the guys. Love him now before you’re mad he won’t throw to your WR.

⚖️ More details on the Rashee Rice car crash. A rundown of the affidavit.

🐏 The Rams have their first Round 1 picksince when?!

RB Super Model

We sent Dwain McFarland back inside the lab to evaluate the incoming class of rookie RBs. Of course, he came up with a model so great it couldn’t just be called a ‘RB model.’

Presenting: Fantasy Life’s new Rookie RB Super Model.

Tier 4 – Backup Traits With RB3 to RB5 Potential

Ray Davis | Kentucky

  • RB Super Model: 22nd percentile

  • Age: 24.8

  • Height: 5-foot-8

  • Weight: 211

Prospect Summary

Davis isn’t a high-end pedigree prospect but could develop into a three-down option with time. His best path to immediate relevance is as an early-down or short-yardage back on a team looking to improve its interior run game. He is an older prospect, but COVID-19 and a season-ending toe injury were factors.

Pedigree and Athleticism

  • Program Quality Index: 27th percentile

  • NFL Mock Drafts: Round 4

  • 247 Recruit Player Rating: 3 of 5 stars (1,812 overall, RB116)

  • Speed Score Index: 44th percentile

Production and Film

  • Adjusted Career YPTA Index: 59th percentile

  • Career Total TDs Per Game Index: 50th percentile

  • Career Composite PFF Grade Index: 57th percentile

  • NFL.com Prospect Grade Index: 46th percentile

While Davis is an old prospect, it is a little deceiving due to the COVID-19 season, plus a toe injury that limited him to three games in his third year. He didn’t face the sort of competition for snaps you see at programs like Alabama and Ohio State, but Davis did his part by commanding 46% of Temple’s designed run attempts as a true freshman.

Davis dominated the Kentucky backfield in his fifth season by bogarting 65% of the designed attempts and posting a 62% route participation. That led to a best-season 2.58 adjusted YPTA (67th percentile), pushing his career mark to 1.80 (59th percentile).

When breaking down Davis' quality of play, the PFF data and film gurus align. He was a stronger runner than a receiver. Per PFF grades, he scored in the 67th percentile as a rusher and fell in the 48th percentile as a receiver for his career.

Zierlein gave Davis a 6.17 prospect grade, which equates to a “good backup with the potential to develop into a starter.” Zierlein viewed Davis as a potential three-down option with toughness between the tackles but a need to step up his pass protection.

Fantasy Outlook: Hit Rates

  • Underdog ADP: RB58, Round 16

  • Rookie Dynasty ADP: RB9, Pick 31

If Davis were going to be 22.8 when the NFL season starts instead of 24.8, he would have been in Tier 3. The Super Model doesn’t make excuses for age, but given the factors surrounding Davis, you could argue that the model needs to improve in this area.

Hit Rates

Tier 5 – Backup Traits With Low Draft Capital Expectations

Isaiah Davis | South Dakota State

  • RB Super Model: 20th percentile

  • Age: 22.8

  • Height: 6-foot

  • Weight: 218

Prospect Summary

After adjusting for play in the FCS, Davis still offers a production profile on par with Will Shipley and Audric Estime. However, his low-end film grades and lack of pedigree or high-end athleticism kept him from tallying a more substantial score in the Super Model.

Pedigree and Athleticism

  • Program Quality Index: 24th percentile

  • NFL Mock Drafts: Round 6

  • 247 Recruit Player Rating: 0 of 5 stars (N/A)

  • Speed Score Index: 41st percentile

Production and Film

  • Adjusted Career YPTA Index: 51st percentile

  • Career Total TDs Per Game Index: 47th percentile

  • Career Composite PFF Grade Index: 66th percentile

  • NFL.com Prospect Grade Index: 38th percentile

Fantasy ADP

  • Underdog ADP: Undrafted

  • Rookie Dynasty ADP: Undrafted

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